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Donald Trump Is ‘Probably Not the Source’ of Latest Tax Return Leak

Who did it? Donald Trump is most likely not the one who leaked his own 2005 tax returns to the press, David Cay Johnston, the reporter who received the documents, said on Good Morning America Wednesday, March 15.

“The venom and anger and the falsehoods in the White House statement suggests that, no, he’s probably not the source,” Johnston said on the morning show. “That tells me that this is somebody who either worked at the accounting firm, or had connections to it, or this copy was turned over to someone in a regulatory proceeding, in litigation, in a financial statement. And why not the whole return?”

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On Tuesday, March 14, Johnston appeared on MSNBC alongside The Rachel Maddow Show’s eponymous host to reveal the contents of documents he received in his mailbox at the Times office. “It’s entirely possible that Donald Trump sent these to me,” Johnston said at the time. 

Donald Trump
Donald Trump at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, MI, in 2017.

According to Johnston, the two-page document — the president’s 2005 1040 tax form — was delivered anonymously to his mailbox sans return address. The Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter pointed out that the words “client copy” were stamped on the second page, and he and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow noted that the papers revealed that Trump had declared $103 million in losses in 2005.

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The document does not, however, show whom the real estate mogul did business with, which may have been the primary reason why he was so reluctant to share his tax returns with the public, according to Johnston, noting that Trumps refusal is a departure from years of presidential tradition.

“I don’t think he wants us to know all the people he’s done business with, both those he’s beholden to and those he receives income from,” Johnston said Wednesday.

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Prior to Maddow’s reveal Tuesday, the White House issued a statement praising Trump, 70, for his income and taxes paid. “Before being elected president, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world, with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” the statement reads. “That being said, Mr. Trump paid $38 million dollars even after taking into account large-scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million dollars, as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes, and this illegally published return proves just that.”

Trump took his own pointed jab at the situation in an early morning tweet Wednesday, March 15. “Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, ‘went to his mailbox’ and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!”

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